Born at the onset of WWII on the 11th June 1938, in Cardiff, Wales, he spent much of the war in Scotland with his adorable grandmother and very tough but kind ex-WWI Scots Guards grandfather. His very young mother volunteered to work in an armament’s factory and his father fought a long war, from which he could return only twice between 1940 and 1945 - a gentle hero to Stephen and most.
At a very young age, he developed a passion for aviation and was lucky to serve a two-year national service in the RAF. Once free at the age of twenty, he met his wonderful wife, Regine, in a café in Cardiff, where he was to play Rugby. His approach was to ask if she would like to see him play – she said no. As she was planning to leave for a long-term visit to Canada, he decided to propose to her three days after their first cup of tea – she said yes.
With a growing family of three, money was too scarce to consider flying for pleasure. However, some business success permitted him to take up occasional flying during the late ‘60s. He even acquired a quarter share in a Tiger Moth with some friends and in the ‘70s he was able to fly under the guidance of Manx Kelly in his Rothman’s Aerobatic team Stampe and Pitts S2B. With socialism making all things financial extremely difficult in UK, they decided to emigrate to the outstanding Gruyères region of Switzerland.
Our export business fortunately grew and so did his appetite for classic aviation and in 1979 we acquired a P51D, N6340T. It was the beginning of The Fighter Collection and the Flying Legends Airshow. In the following forty-years, the acquisition and trade of close to one hundred aircraft coincided with a growing world interest in classic Fighters. It was a delight to find, restore, manage and to fly such extraordinary aircraft as Spitfires EP120, ML417, SM832, MV258, PK624, Hawker Nimrod, Hurricanes XII and IV, Sea-Furys, Gloster Gladiator, Fiat CR42, Grumman Wildcat, Hellcat, Bearcat, Tigercat, Corsair FG1D, P47D & M Thunderbolt, Lockheed P38, Hawk 75, P36, P40B, C, F&M, P51C, Ds and many more magical machines.
His role in this would never have succeeded without the selfless help of many. The passionate care afforded in restoration of these aircraft to safe flight was provided by volunteers, friends, employees, partners and such as greats as - Peter Rushen, Martin Espin, Steve Hinton, Matt Nightingale and so many magical hands who beavered away for hundreds of thousands of hours to make this lifetime of memories which he has been privileged to share with the public, his extraordinary family and with many great past and present pilots.
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